Zermatt

Picture Perfect

By Robert Choquette, Co-founder and former Editor of Skier Magazine and Marilyn Griffiths, Special Contributor

 

We’ve always enjoyed travelling by train in Europe. It’s efficient, fast, and comfortable. So, when heading for Zermatt, there was no question how we’d get there from Zurich. And, even if we had wanted to drive, this little Swiss town happens to be a car-free zone. This means that, regardless of whether you take public transportation or drive your own vehicle, you must switch over to a train or taxi once you get to Täsch in order to make your way that last five kilometers up into a semi-pedestrian world (we’ll call it “semi” because of the prevalence of golf-cart-like vehicles buzzing around!).

By far the best-known ski destination in Switzerland, this picturesque town is dominated by the iconic, snowcapped Matterhorn looming above. It doesn’t matter whether you’re at the terrace of one of Zermatt’s numerous cafés and restaurants or if you’re on the slopes, the Matterhorn is right there in full view. Just like the postcard.

Our hotel rep was there at the train station with a miniscule electric vehicle to take us, and our bags, to our lodgings. Since we’d reserved our high-performance skis online, we didn’t have to worry about travelling with bulky ski bags. While our luggage rode, we chose to walk; a chance to take in our surroundings. Upscale boutiques, cafés and bars line Bahnhofstrasse, Zermatt’s main street, but we headed down narrow side streets to seep in the more traditional atmosphere.

Of the three distinct ski areas surrounding Zermatt, for our first day on the slopes, we decided to head for the central area, the Gornergrat. It’s served by a cog railway, taking about half an hour to reach the top. The terrain is not as extensive as the other areas, but its open snowfields are well worth it even if simply for the spectacular view of the glacier that’s visible from here. There’s also a good chance you’ll spot the resident wild mountain sheep too.

Every on-slope day should definitely include a lunch stop at an on-mountain restaurant. Sprinkled throughout the region, these individual establishments have a long history of providing good food to hungry guests. Blatten is a prime example of a long-standing traditional alpine restaurant that has been welcoming visitors since 1850. The Sunnegga, Zermatt’s second area, has the quickest slope access via a high-speed underground funicular. It’s the area to head to in bad weather since there are plenty of tree-lined runs to aid visibility.

On one particular morning of our trip, it dawned a perfect bluebird day. Just right for the third and largest area, the Klein Matterhorn. Here a cable car scoops skiers to the area around the Matterhorn itself. It’s at the highest altitude, has the most extensive terrain and the snow is often best here. We skied right across the top, out of Switzerland and headed down around the back of the Matterhorn into Cervinia, for a little lunch— Italian style. The trick here is to get back to Switzerland before the lifts close. On our way down, we skied into Hennue Stall, probably the most lively on-slope après-ski stop. Too tired to dance, we finished our pint, put our skis on and headed back to the hotel for dinner. We were early to bed, hoping also to be early to rise! After all, every day is a new adventure in this idyllic Swiss town!



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GOLF COURSES


EXCURSIONS

PARCS NATIONAUX

SPECTACLES

Zermatt, Switzerland

Accompanied by

February 9, 2018 to February 17, 2018


$ 3 995 3 795 / pers.
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Club Med Cervinia, Italy

Accompanied by

March 10, 2018 to March 18, 2018


$ 3 195 / pers.
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Text from 2015-2016 ski magazine

 

a dream come true

By Marie Duchesneau, Special Contributor and Globe-trotting Skier

Zermatt is a tiny village tucked deep in the heart of the Swiss Alps often described as athletic, aesthetic and panoramic—but, although clearly accurate, mere words cannot do this place justice. You really need to experience it for yourself. When I stepped out of the train station, I had to pinch myself to make sure it was real.

Was I in heaven? As I strolled through the vehicle-free alpine village, I just couldn’t keep my eyes off the Matterhorn, the most widely photographed mountain in the world. And I also couldn’t help think that this majestic icon of the Swiss Alps might serve as a great reference point as I made my way around the enormous ski area here.

To start the day off on the right foot, make sure you hop on the cog railway. This 30-minute trip will take you up to the Gornergrat sector at 3,089 metres. From there, you can warm up your leg muscles on the wide-groomed intermediate runs before making your way over to the Stockhorn sector. The latter is a magnificent—albeit somewhat crowded— bowl of glorious powder. After a morning of brisk skiing, you can make your way to the Fluhalp restaurant via the Rothorn lift. You’ll definitely want to try a delicious röstie, the region’s most popular dish. If you happen to love long descents (and have thighs of steel!), challenge yourself to ski from Matterhorn Glacier Paradise all the way down to the village. Your après-ski will certainly be well deserved after that! If, however, you happen to be more of a backcountry enthusiast, I strongly recommend you hire a guide to stay safe while exploring out-of-bounds areas.

Besides, guided backcountry skiing is a great way to meet wonderful people and share some great stories. To finish things off in style, you absolutely have to hop over to the Italian side of this ski area. No trip to Zermatt would be complete without it. Set an entire day aside if you really want to make the most of it, and also to make sure you avoid wasting time going back and forth between both sides of the mountain. The coffee and pasta alone will make you glad you went!

After a trip to Zermatt, you will easily understand why it is one of the most popular places in Switzerland—if not Europe overall! It truly does feel like time stands still here. And there’s no better way to spend a vacation than immersed in a way of life that is all about skiing and gastronomy. Enjoy!

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Ski stations Accommodations Snow Conditions
TEMPERATURE (CELSIUS)
Month Min. Max.
January -2 2
February -1 4
March 1 9
April 3 14
May 7 18
June 11 21
July 12 23
August 11 22
September 10 18
October 5 12
November 1 6
December -1 2

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